The best video games from the first half of 2018

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You can't ignore 'God of War.'
Image: sony interactive entertainment

We’re halfway through the year 2018 and there have already been a handful of huge gaming hits that have dominated our lives for dozens (and dozens [and dozens]) of hours.

In the spirit of all things video games, we’ve compiled all of our favorite games from 2018 thus far and put them into a handy, digestible mid-year list. 

We’ve got games from all walks of life: platformers, sports games, action games, adventure games, survival games.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 games of 2018 so far: 

10: Super Mega Baseball 2

Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, Super Mega Baseball 2 is a good, good time. Reminiscent of casual baseball games of yore like Backyard Baseball, Super Mega Baseball 2 ditches the realism of the most popular baseball games to focus on the fun of the game: getting hits and trying to strike out your opponents. The gameplay is technical enough to be a bit of a challenge in terms of reflexes and strategy but doesn’t get overbearing. Plus, the players’ names are hilarious: Rip Dingers, Joanna Heater, Liane Drive, and Hammer Longballo, to name a few.

9: Minit

Minit begins as one of the most frustrating games ever. There’s a clock constantly counting down to your death, which happens every 60 seconds. When you die, you are sent back to where you started. The only way to progress is to complete an objective, which usually involves finding a specific item and using it. And then you die. And then you figure out what to do next. Die. Complete objective. Die. Progress to new area and find a new checkpoint. Die. 

The cycle turns from frustrating to rhythmic as you realize death doesn’t actually set you back very far and everything is paced out perfectly in the minimalist world of Minit. Sure, you may be a couple seconds late on finishing something and need to do it over, but it’s only going to take 60 seconds at the most.

8: Surviving Mars

You think you’re better than Elon Musk? Prove it! The SpaceX founder has designs on one day colonizing Mars, but Surviving Mars gives you the chance to get there first. In many ways, this is a straightforward city-builder game with rules that are uniquely tailored to make you plan around cultivating a society that can survive in the hostile environment of an inhospitable world. 

It’s on you to decide where human-friendly domes can go and how quickly new colonists should be shuttled in. You can even drill down as far as the passenger manifest on incoming colony ships, weeding out people with undesirable traits before they can ever leave Earth. With clear rules and easy-to-grasp controls, Surviving Mars is a beautiful, entertaining game that lets you imagine life beyond our current dumpster fire of a planet.

7: Frostpunk

Frostpunk imagines a world that’s been frozen over by a new ice age. You play the leader of a small encampment of humans that’s found some measure of shelter in a deep, completely walled-in valley. It’s still deadly cold, but protected enough from the elements to be livable… with some modifications. Your job is to oversee the survivor colony’s development by gathering resources, building an infrastructure, and expanding into what’s left of the wider world. 

You’ve got to manage all of that while also wrestling with difficult policy decisions, such as how to deal with the sick or dispose of corpses, that always ask you to choose between the best of two bad options. This is a game where terrible things are happening all the time, and it’s your job to simply ensure that when the bad stuff does happen, it doesn’t spiral out of control.

6: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is hands-down the best game in the Donkey Kong Country series. Originally released on the Wii U in 2014, Tropical Freeze made its jump to the Switch in May this year bringing its masterclass in platforming, mine-carting, and rocket-flying to the current generation. 

Each world and level is bright, beautiful, and unique, all of it backed with a fun, toe-tapping soundtrack. From its exhilarating and challenging platforming sequences to its demanding boss battles, Tropical Freeze is a blast.

5: Monster Hunter: World

The Monster Hunter series goes all the way back to 2004, but Monster Hunter: World is really the first entry that feels truly accessible. It is, as the title implies, a game built around hunting monsters. After you hop into one of a small handful of open world spaces, it’s up to you to find evidence of a given monster’s existence and pick up the trail from there to find your target. 

Your hunts pit you against a wide variety enormous creatures that, once defeated, leave behind materials you can use to craft better weapons and armor. That, in turn, leads you into your next, increasingly tougher hunts. It’s a very satisfying feedback loop, further enhanced by “live game” elements that introduce special, time-limited quests with unique rewards of their own. There’s nothing quite like Monster Hunter, and World is its best realization yet.

4: The Swords of Ditto

Picture The Legend of Zelda, that first one. Now coat it in a layer of cartoon graphics that wouldn’t be out of place on Adult Swim. Still with me? Now, build a game into that template where you play a Zelda-esque hero chasing loot that opens up the world and delving deep into boss-capped dungeons. Finally, make it so whenever you do die — it’s gonna happen, make no mistake — you start over with nothing, roguelike style. 

If all of that sounds appealing to you, welcome to The Swords of Ditto.

3: Jurassic World: Evolution

It’s been a tremendous year for games that charge you with managing and containing chaos, and Jurassic World: Evolution sits at the top of the pile. It’s exactly what you’d want from a Jurassic Park-themed business sim: Research dino DNA and build your own park to house them. 

With multiple island configurations to wrestle with along with a story mode that pushes you to experiment, there are hours and hours of entertainment to be found in this inventive game.

2: Celeste

Right from the start, Celeste establishes everything that you can expect from the game: intense, gratifying platforming. Celeste is a tale of a girl named Madeline and her ambition to climb a mountain, occasionally running into colorful characters, and dying over and over and over and over again as the platforming trials grow more and more challenging the closer she gets to the summit. 

The platforming is relentless, and you can make it harder by trying to grab items in precarious places, or just jump and dash through the beautifully pixelated world as quickly as possible. Celeste handles just as well as the most highly respected platformers out there and deserves to call games like Super Meat Boy, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Metroid its peers.

1: God of War

One man, one boy, one axe, and one amazing adventure. God of War took Kratos and sent him on a new path in Norse mythology with his son Atreus that combines the satisfying hyperviolence of the original trilogy with a refreshingly mature premise and story: Kratos’s wife and Atreus’s mother died and her wish was that they spread her ashes on the peak of the tallest mountain.

With its worlds-spanning tale and enormous set pieces, God of War nails the action-adventure genre on every beat. You can customize the way you fight with unlockable skills, making the cathartic combat fit your playstyle as you tear through enemies on your way through mesmerizing worlds to fulfill your goal, all while running into a fantastic cast of characters and witnessing some truly spectacular moments befitting the God of War series.

Honorable mention: Destiny 2: Warmind

Destiny 2 isn’t in the best place right now, but fans are feeling hopeful after seeing what Bungie has in store for the game’s Forsaken update in September. Bungie’s been on something of an apology tour throughout 2018, with the studio going out of its way to communicate more actively with fans and act on their feedback in meaningful ways. 

Warmind arrived in May, and Bungie’s newfound attentiveness to player concerns was echoed in what it delivered. No one’s saying Warmind fixed Destiny 2 completely, but its new patrol zone, brief mini-campaign, and new raid lair, along with an overall rebalancing effort that affects all players (even non-Warmind owners) gave fans exactly the kinds of things they were asking for while also hinting at the bigger changes ahead. 

With Warmind, fans found news reasons to be hopeful about the future of Destiny 2.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/26/best-games-2018-so-far/

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